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ASCE 7 Committee

ASCE 7 Committee

ASCE 7 Committee

The recent mass termination of the ASCE 7 Committee (by letter from Prof. David Darwin) was shocking and disturbing because:
* It was a dictatorial decision made without consulting with the Committee.
* It is in violation of the letter and spirit of the rules of ANSI which require consensus and prohibit outside interference with Committee activities.

Any suggestions on what can be done to convince ASCE to reverse this unfortunate decision, reinstate the Committee, and preserve its independence?

RE: ASCE 7 Committee

Not sure what termination you are talking about - can you provide a link to a news article?

(sorry - I must be out of touch here).

RE: ASCE 7 Committee

I have not seen a news article on this either.

On November 6, 2006, most members of the ASCE 7 Committee -- including me -- received an e-mail from James A. Rossberg, Director of SEI (the Structural Engineering Institute of ASCE). Attached to it was a PDF of a letter (on ASCE/SEI stationery) from David Darwin, Chair, SEI Codes and Standards, TERMINATING our memberships in the ASCE 7 Committee. No prior warning was given to the Committee.

What ASCE should have done -- and MUST do now to rectify the situation -- is to reconvene the Committee and discuss their complaints (e.g., the slow progress of the consensus process) with it. Allowing the unfortunate "mass firing" of Committee members to stand will compromise the independence of this prestigious Committee and will set a terrible precedent.

RE: ASCE 7 Committee

Something doesn't make sense here. I know that Dr. Harris stepped down as chair, but that's becuase he had too much on his plate, etc.; but a "firing" of the whole committee? Weird.

Maybe we'll see something about it in Structure magazine? Sounds like a neat soap opera.

RE: ASCE 7 Committee

Thats seems odd since the SEI website is still offering applications for people to be able to join the committee.

RE: ASCE 7 Committee

UPDATE: ASCE refuses to reconsider its unilateral decision to terminate the ASCE 7 Committee and replace it with a new Committee. It also refuses to meet with the old Committee for a discussion.

Any suggestions on how to stop this gross interference with the independence and integrity of a prestigious standards committee?

RE: ASCE 7 Committee

Who got canned and who are the replacements?

RE: ASCE 7 Committee

Officially, the entire Committee was "dissolved." However, an ASCE 7 Steering Committee was named, consisting of the following members (who will be retained): Bachman, Dusenberry, Ellingwood, Griffis, Hamburger, Harris, Jones, O'Rourke, Peabody, Rossberg, and Soules. Their stated intent is to limit the Committee to about forty members, half its previous size. The other members of the old Committee may be appointed as "associate members," a meaningless position, since they will merely receive correspondence but will not be allowed to vote.

RE: ASCE 7 Committee

I've met Dusenberry and Harris. They're pretty sharp.

...is there a copy of the letter by Prof. David Darwin somewhere? I couldn't find it on the web.

It might be a good thing... I don't want to see another change in ASCE 7 until something like 2015.

RE: ASCE 7 Committee

Per your request, the text of the Darwin memo follows. Please note that this was done unilaterally by Darwin and SEI/ASCE without prior notice to the Committee. The problem of abstentions he mentions was never discussed with the Committee and should have been solved with a dialogue between ASCE and the Committee, as every other organization has done. The unilateral termination of a such a standards Committee by its sponsor compromises the required independence and integrity of the Committee.
To: Members of the ASCE 7 Standards Committee and Subcommittees
From: Dave Darwin
Chair, Executive Committee
SEI Codes and Standards Activities Division
Date: November 6, 2006
Re: ASCE 7 standards committee
With the development of the 2010 edition of ASCE 7 soon to begin, I would like to inform
you about a change to the ASCE Rules for Standards Committees which will have a significant
impact upon the way in which all ASCE standards committees will operate in the future.
Several years ago, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) modified its model
procedures and introduced a new requirement pertaining to how consensus is determined. This new
requirement, which ASCE has adopted into our Rules, mandates that a minimum of 50% of the
entire membership of the committee must cast an “Affirm” or “Affirm with Comment” vote for a
proposal to pass. This requirement is in addition to the two existing ballot approval requirements
that remain unchanged: 65% of the committee must return the ballot and 75% of those voting must
vote either “Affirm” or “Affirm with Comment” for the proposal to pass.
ASCE Standard Committee 7 has historically balloted in a fashion that could easily create
gridlock under these new rules. In many ballots, ASCE 7 members have cast high percentages of
abstentions. Abstentions can not be resolved using the process that applies to negative votes. Since,
under the new rules, an abstention is effectively a negative vote that can not be resolved, this
suggests that the ASCE 7 committee as presently organized will have difficulty functioning
efficiently in the future.
The Executive Committee of CSAD has discussed this issue at great length and, in
recognizing the need for the ASCE 7 Committee to meet the Rules and also operate effectively, the
Executive Committee has approved the following actions:
1. With sincere thanks and appreciation for your work over the years, the memberships of
the ASCE 7 Standards Committee and the Subcommittees are dismissed with the
exception of the Chair and ViceChair,
Don Dusenberry and Bob Bachman.
2. Anyone wishing to rejoin
the ASCE 7 Standards Committee or the Subcommittees may
reapply. However, the voting membership of the Main Committee will be limited to
approximately 50 people.
3. Because of the diverse nature of the ASCE 7 standard and the broad interest in
participating in the Committee’s decision making, the Executive Committee has
approved the creation of Associate Members as a new classification of membership for
the ASCE 7 committee and subcommittees. There is no limit on the number of
individuals who may participate as Associate Members. Associate members will be
included in all committee mailings and will be afforded the opportunity to participate
and comment during the committee deliberations and to provide comments on all ballots,
to the extent they wish. However, they will not vote on resolutions. The Steering
Committee of ASCE 7 may also choose to designate individuals as Distinguished
Members to honor those individuals who have made significant contributions to the
standard. Their privileges will be the same as those of Associate Members.
4. Applications for either Voting or Associate Membership must be submitted via the SEI
website at www.SEInstitute.org using the “Committee” button at the top of the page.
Applications for Voting Membership on the main ASCE 7 committee must be received
by December 15, 2006. If you wish to apply to participate as an Associate Member of
the Main Committee or for membership on a Subcommittee, either as a Voting Member
or an Associate Member depending on your interests, please do so as soon as possible.
5. The Chair and ViceChair
are charged with developing and submitting to the SEI CSAD
Executive Committee a roster for the main ASCE 7 committee by January 15, 2006.
On behalf of SEI and ASCE, I want to thank each of you for the commitment and
contributions you have made in the development of ASCE 7. Many of you have served on this
committee and its subcommittees since its transfer from the National Bureau of Standards and your
service to advancing the profession is truly appreciated. We hope that you will continue to
participate in the work of the committee. A memo from Don Dusenberry with greater detail on
future participation will be forthcoming shortly.
Naturally, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact either Jim Rossberg
(jrossberg@asce.org), Director of SEI, or me (daved@ku.edu). If you have any difficulty with the
application process, please contact ASCE’s Standards Administrator, Phillip Mariscal at
Cc: Don Dusenberry, Chair, ASCE 7
Bob Bachman, ViceChair,
Jim Rossberg, Director, SEI
Phillip Mariscal, Administrator, Codes and Standards

RE: ASCE 7 Committee

Very interesting...

How did you get a copy of this, Rokach?

It's the kind of letter that would best be sent on ASCE letterhead via certified mail, no?

RE: ASCE 7 Committee

The Darwin letter was sent to me and the other ASCE 7 Committee members as a PDF file attachment to an e-mail. The PDF did have the letterhead of ASCE/SEI.
If this were not a serious matter, I would give Prof. David Darwin the Donald Trump award for single-handedly "firing" the entire ASCE 7 Committee, which includes some of the most distinguished members of our profession.
In response to inquiries I have received elsewhere, he is the same David Darwin who is vice-president of ACI and is currently their one and only candidate for president.

RE: ASCE 7 Committee

OK... it's about time I took a look at my copy of ASCE 7... and there you are.

What do the other ex-members of ASCE 7 have to say about this?

RE: ASCE 7 Committee

Several members of the ASCE 7 Committee (five by e-mail and others over the phone) have told me that they agree that ASCE is wrong, for various reasons: unilateral action by a sponsor to dissolve a standards committee is unprofessional, destroys the required independence of the committee, is a violation of both the letter and spirit of the rules of ANSI, etc.
However, due to fear of retaliation by ASCE, they are reluctant to go public on this matter.

RE: ASCE 7 Committee

This was initiated by a sponsor?  Which one? Really unprofessional and strikes at the independence of the organization.


RE: ASCE 7 Committee

Congrats ASCE, you have finally responded to what your members have been requesting.
The number one complaint from Structural Engineers is the ever changing building codes and how professors and suppliers have taken over the committees in order to justify their research or sell their product.  Maybe now some practicing professional engineers will step up to the plate and bring respect back to the committee and only approve changes that make sense.  And not use your committee member status as a way to generate revenue speaking at the next National Convention.  

How many times have you attended a seminar because the presenter is committee chair (or member) and they can not explain or justify the changes they made to the code?  

RE: ASCE 7 Committee

I respectfully disagree.
The mass termination of the ASCE 7 Committee was initiated by a professor. (Please see above.) Those who have protested are practicing structural engineers. In fact, I know some engineers who have left ASCE (after many years of membership) because they consider the "hijacking" of this prestigious Committee by ASCE to be unprofessional and highly objectionable.
I believe one of the hidden agendas of ASCE in recreating the Committee will be to increase the number of professors and reduce the number of practitioners.
What is very scary is that the chief perpetrator was recently elected president of ACI in a Communist-style, one-candidate election. Are ACI committees next on his agenda?

RE: ASCE 7 Committee

A related aspect of the ASCE 7 Committee situation troubles me. Since ASCE introduced Web-based electronic balloting of its standards committees and made it mandatory, the management of ASCE can readily determine how every committee member voted on any issue. The new "rule" they adopted that -- contrary to their ANSI accreditation which requires independence of standards committees -- enables them to "dissolve" committees and terminate members without due process invites abuse. Were members of the ASCE 7 Committee terminated because they voted against the interests of ASCE?

RE: ASCE 7 Committee

Regarding ASCE and standards, here's what I want:

1. I want a TEXTBOOK WITH EXAMPLES (***GOOD*** examples) that addresses seismic design. This book should be on the lines as the Wind and Snow load books.

2. I want the standards to be issued on a five-year basis. It could be a complete re-write for all I care, but the three-year spread - especially when the standard actually becomes available to the public near the end of the standard year (like November 2005 or something).

3. I want the standards to be FREE or nearly free. Dude, it's enough that I bay $240 a year for ASCE membership and though I get a couple of cool magazines, I don't like paying $60, $80, etc. up and up for a STANDARD that I am expected to use. I also don't like your niggardly attitude toward expiration of digital documents. (like my digital copy of ASCE 37 that, after a year, went poof!)

4. I reserve the right to rant more on this issue at any time. That is all.

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